The report says TRAI has decided not to initiate the process because it now believes that ‘operators can offset their losses through growth in data revenue’.

According to a TRAI official, “One-third of the incremental revenue of the telecom industry is coming from data services itself. As far as the voice services are concerned, there is an upswing in the realisation rates. There is no proposal for a consultation paper (on regulating companies offering free messaging and calling services).”

In April, TRAI disclosed to be working on discussion paper that looks at the impact of Over-The-Top (OTT) players such as messaging apps.

Several telcos including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular want app providers to pay a connectivity charge to make up for the losses in revenue, since many apps replace core revenue streams such as SMSes or phone calls.

Telcos are reportedly losing around Rs 5,000 crore annually because of such free apps, and the figure is expected to cross Rs 16,400 crore in the next two years.

On the other hand, OTT players have refuted the claims stating it’s against the concept of net neutrality.
According to them, ‘any move to regulate and seek payment either to the government or to the carriers is against the concept of free Internet or net neutrality’, adds the report.

The report also suggests that if TRAI forces the app makers to pay, the cost would eventually pass on to customers.